Biography of Thomas M. Sechler
Moline is a city of manufacturers, one of the most prominent of whom is the subject of this sketch, Thomas M. Sechler. He was born October 25, 1841, in Milton, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, at which place his father, D. M. Sechler, at that time conducted a carriage factory. His father, Daniel Montgomery Sechler, was born at Danville, Pennsylvania, March 4, 1818, and his mother, Pamela (Mackey) Sechler, was born in Rutland Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania, December 19, 1819. She is still living at her home in Cincinnati, Ohio.
T. M. Sechler’s paternal great-great-great grandfather came from Holland in 1685, together with a brother, and settled in William Penn’s territory near Philadelphia. The brother settled in North Carolina, and one hundred and seventy-eight years later the descendants of these two brothers were to be found in the ranks of the opposing armies in the war of the Rebellion. The great-grandfather, John Sechler, born March 20, 1739, died December 21, 1831, was a soldier in the American army during the Revolution, from 1776 to 1778. He was born in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, and after the close of the Revolutionary war he moved to Columbia County in the same State, where he founded the town of Danville, now the county seat of Montour County.
Mr. Sechler’s maternal grandmother, Susannah (Douty) Sechler, was born April 27, 1781, and died September 8, 1871. She was descended on her mother’s side from John Cooper, one of the early settlers in Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts, where he came in 1628. Her father, John Douty, was also a Revolutionary soldier, and was taken prisoner by the British at the capture of Fort Freeland.
His mother’s great grandfather, Martin Mackey, a Revolutionary soldier, was killed at the battle of the Brandywine. His son, Andrew Mackey, was an American soldier during the war of 1812. Andrew Mackey’s son, Thomas Saylor Mackey, was a lad too young to join the army with his father during the war of 1812, but he was afterward a Major in the Pennsylvania militia, and for a time was a magistrate for Northumberland County. He was a contractor, and built a portion of the Northern Central Railroad, now a part of the Pennsylvania System.
Mr. Sechler received a common school education in Adams County, Ohio. and later attended a school in Ironton, Lawrence County, in the same State. In June, 1860, he graduated from Hughes High School, in Cincinnati, and the following September he entered the Sophomore class of Marietta College, from which he graduated July 2, 1863, ranking third in a graduating class of twelve. During the years he spent at Marietta College he pursued a classical course. Bishop C. C. McCabe, of the Methodist Episcopal Church, was one of his teachers at the Ironton High School, and it was at this institution that Mr. Sechler met his future wife, who was also a pupil there.
From 1858 to 1869, and from 1877 to 1888, Mr. Sechler lived at Cincinnati, the eight years from 1869 to 1877 being spent in Montgomery County, Tennessee, where he was engaged with others in the manufacture of iron.
As has been stated, Mr. Sechler graduated from Marietta College on July 2, 1863. On the eighteenth of the same month he was enrolled in the Union Army and served throughout the war. He served with the Second Ohio Artillery, from which he resigned at the close of the war, holding the rank of First Lieutenant at the time. He saw most of his service in Kentucky and Eastern Tennessee. Part. of his time was spent on detached service, he being at different times Acting Assistant Adjutant General, Acting Assistant Quartermaster and Provost Marshal, but he was with his Regiment on all its important moves. He was, however, in only one severe engagement, that being with Wheeler’s Cavalry at Calhoun, Tennessee, during the month of August, 1864.
From 1866 to 1869 Mr. Sechler was engaged in business with his father at Cincinnati, and from 1869 to 1877, as has been said, he was in the iron industry at Montgomery County, Tennessee. From November 1877, to December, 1888, he was a member of the firm of Sechler & Company, carriage manufacturers, at Cincinnati, his father being president of that firm until he retired in May, 1887, to resume again at Moline, Illinois.
On January 8, 1889, eighteen months later, T. M. Sechler came to Moline to join his father in the business that he had already established there, ever since which time he has been a resident of that city. His first connection with the Moline firm was as Vice-President of that industry, but upon the death of his father in 1903 he succeeded him as President of the institution, which office he has held since that time. He is also President of the Wright Carriage Body Company, a director in the Mutual Wheel Company, all Moline industries, besides holding stock in several other factories in that city.
He was married at Ironton, Ohio, June 7, 1866, to his former schoolmate, Miss Juliet McCullough, daughter of Addison McCullough, one of the leading iron manufacturers at that place. His wife’s four great grand-fathers were Revolutionary soldiers, and she is a member of the Moline Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution. Three children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Sechler, two sons who died in infancy, and. one daughter, Mary Addie, now the wife of Mr. Howard O. Edmonds, Assistant Secretary of the Northern Trust Company, of Chicago.
Mr. Sechler has never been an aspirant for political honors, the only officer he ever held being school trustee in Montgomery County, Tennessee, and at the same time he was also postmaster at Vernon Furnace, a town in that county. Although not an office seeker himself, Mr. Sechler has always been a staunch and loyal Republican, his first vote being cast for Abraham Lincoln during the time he was in the army in 1864. He is a strong adherent to the principles of his party and has never failed to support its candidates for President since he cast his first vote.
In religious faith Mr. Sechler was originally a Presbyterian, but upon coming to Moline he became connected with the First Congregational Church of that City, to which he has given his allegiance ever since.
He is a Mason, being a member of Doric Lodge, Moline; a Royal Arch Mason, and a member of the Chapter of Knight Templars at Rock Island.
He has been a member of the Grand Army of the Republic since 1880, first joining that organization at Cincinnati, and upon removal to Moline transferring his membership to the Post at the latter city. While at Cincinnati he filled various Post offices, from officer of the day to Post Commander, and was also chief mustering officer of the Department of Ohio. He represented Ohio in the Council of Administration during the last year of his residence there. He also belongs to the Loyal Legion, holding his membership in Ohio.
Besides these organizations, Mr. Sechler belongs to the Moline Club and to the National Association of Carriage Builders, in which for three years he was a vice-president.
He is also a member of the Illinois Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.
Mr. Sechler is a man of marked administrative ability. The industries which he controls are prosperous and thriving ones, their increase and growth being continuous and steady. He is one of the men to whom Moline owes the distinguished position she holds in the galaxy of manufacturing cities of America.